Martín Yáñez
Director
Autronic SA de CV
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View from the Top

Mining 4.0 Is No Longer an Option

By Paloma Duran | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 09:04

Q: How does the company adapt its products and services to emerging challenges and opportunities?

A: Autronic tries to provide complete solutions to customers in two approaches, Technology and Process whit great up-to-date knowledge in both of them:

  • Our Services and Technological Expertise:
  • At Electrical & Electronics Engineering
  • Design & Programming of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Distributed Control System (DCS) ,
  • Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and Industrial Communication Networks.
  • Configuration of Motor Control Center (MCC) , Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), Soft Starters.
  • Electrical System Installation, medium and low voltage
  • Design and Construction of Control Rooms
  • Containerized solutions to meet customer needs (known as PowerHouse or e-House)
  • Control & Instrumentation ‐ Projects Start up
  • Commissioning worldwide

Over the years we have developed a strong background and expertise in different processes for the mining industries:

  • Comminution Equipment
  • Complete Crushing & Grinding Department
  • Leaching
  • Flotation
  • Filtration and Thickener Department
  • Merrill‐Crowe and ADR Plant
  • Material Handling
  • Services Department
  • Electricity Generation; Fresh water; Wells; Compressed air

Q: What added value do customers get by choosing the company's products and services?

A: Being a solutions provider requires that we remain on the cutting edge. At Autronic, we provide training to keep up with new software and technologies, which allows us to better understand our customers when they detail their problems. We can then guide them to the solution that best suits their needs while adapting to their budget, resulting in a win-win agreement.

Our main differentiators are our containerized solutions known as powerhouse that integrate all our automation products and everything else our customers need, thus allowing a faster startup time.

Q: What are the main benefits of implementing Autronic’s automated solutions?

A: There are many benefits but the main ones are that they increase the safety of workers and equipment, improve process efficiency, maintain a high level of quality without depending on the operators and allow preventive actions in case something unusual happens. In addition, the automated solutions improve the company’s carbon footprint, since they consume less energy, deliver management reports in real time and store data for analysis.

Q: How is the Mexican mining sector accepting automated solutions?

A: There are some challenges that we must continue to work on. Mine conditions require robust equipment that is generally not cheap. As a result, there is some resistance to implementing new solutions; however, their use has increased over time. Implementing automated solutions requires constant investment but cost-benefit studies show that this is the best solution in the long term. The return on investment takes about two years. Given that a mine can have a useful life of 25 years, we believe this is a great opportunity.

Q: What areas should customers prioritize to ensure a successful transition to these new technologies?

A: The benefits of Mining 4.0 are becoming increasingly known and as a result, some companies that want to implement it without having a gradual transition. The most important factor in a successful transition is to have an optimal base of instrumentation and control of mining processes. There are mines that were built 20 years ago and some people believe that because they do not have a modern structure, they cannot incorporate these technologies. This is not true. If we see that their current structures and technologies still provide benefits, we can adapt them. In addition, if mines are connected to a PLC, it can be used to incorporate any technology linked to Industry 4.0. We believe there is always a way to adopt new technologies but the plan must be in line with the needs and structures of the companies. It depends on the size of the mining facility but it typically takes about five to six weeks to make the transition to automation for each department (Crushers, Mills, Leach, etc.).

Q: What opportunities have you identified in Mexico now that the pandemic has accelerated the implementation of remote and digital solutions?

A: The pandemic made it clear that more automation is needed, since mines that had high levels of automation were the least affected. The pandemic significantly strengthened the use and promotion of new technologies, as well as opening new opportunities for companies like ours. One opportunity we identified was remote connectivity. We faced a major challenge during the pandemic when mining companies had a problem and required our help. It would take us a while to get to the mine because they are generally in remote areas. As a result, we began to offer our control systems with remote connectivity, where we provide consulting services and advice, without having to physically visit the mine or waste time.

Q: Why do you think automation and digitalization are the future of mining in Mexico?

A: Mining 4.0 is no longer optional. Companies that do not join this trend will have serious competitive disadvantages. Industry 4.0 is developing in all sectors and experts assure that in the short term, automation, digitalization, connectivity and data analysis will play a fundamental role in mining. New technologies that will cover the entire mining value chain will revolutionize the industry, making it more efficient, safe and sustainable.

Autronic is a Mexican automation company and solutions provider. The company specializes in system integrations, as well as electrical control, instrumentation and robotics, supported by a team of professionals in automation services.

 

Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Journalist and Industry Analyst